Thomas Cranmer

The early 16th century hexagonal pulpit with linenfold panelling in the nave of Westminster Abbey is by tradition that in which Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Cranmer preached at the coronation of King Edward VI. A small plaque on the pulpit reads:

Thomas Cranmer 1489-1556 Archbishop of Canterbury is traditionally said to have preached from this pulpit

The wrought iron staircase was made in 1962.

Thomas was the son of Thomas and Agnes (Hatfield) and was educated at Cambridge and ordained. His first wife was Joan who died in childbirth. It was very unusual for priests to be married at that time. Thomas entered royal service in 1527 serving on diplomatic missions. He became archdeacon of Taunton and his second wife was Margaret, whom he had met in Germany. They had at least one daughter Margaret, who married Thomas Norton, and a son Thomas. In 1533 he was consecrated archbishop of Canterbury. He supported Henry VIII's request to have his marriage to Catherine of Aragon declared null and void and the marriage to Anne Boleyn validated. He was godfather to the future Elizabeth I. The Book of Common Prayer was compiled through his influence. When Mary I came to the throne he was imprisoned for being a supporter of Lady Jane Grey and later charged with heresy. He was burnt at the stake in Oxford on 21st March 1556.

Further reading

"Thomas Cranmer. A Life" by D. MacCulloch, 1996

"The First and Second Prayer Books of Edward VI", 1910

A yearly commemoration of his martyrdom is held in Oxford

Website of the Prayer Book Society


21st March 1556





Thomas Cranmer
Thomas Cranmer by Gerlach Flicke

© National Portrait Gallery, London [Creative Commons CC BY-NC-ND 3.0]

Thomas Cranmer
Thomas Cranmer pulpit

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2023 Dean and Chapter of Westminster